Monday, March 12, 2007

World-Wide Depression

{ image credit }

"Mysteriously and in ways that are totally remote from normal experience, the gray drizzle of horror induced by depression takes on the quality of physical pain ... it is entirely natural that the victim begins to think ceaselessly of oblivion."

WILLIAM STYRON, Darkness Visible

From Wikipedia:

"Styron's influence deepened and his readership expanded with the publication of Darkness Visible. This memoir was a description of the author's devastating descent into depression, the 'despair beyond despair'. By examining an illness that affects millions but is still widely misunderstood, Styron offered an intimate and very personal portrait of the agony of this ordeal, revealing the anguish of a mind 'desperate unto death'."

I'm writing this post (from the most personal perspective) because I had a rough time getting along with a good friend today and it's got me pondering myself into a depressive state...

I'm writing this post ( from the most global perspective ) because our World is caught-up in a downward spiral of Depression that has sporadic bouts of Mania thrown in to keep things from getting downright deathly boring.

I'm being slightly tongue-in-cheek right now but I'd rather be that way than stick my tongue out (at what's happening in our poor, sick World) and risk having it bitten off (by me or another fellow traveller...).

Check out this list of stages of Depression and think about our World:

  • low mood
  • low self-esteem
  • pessimism
  • fatigue, reduced energy
  • disturbances of sleep (insomnia or hypersomnia)
  • disturbances of appetite (anorexia or hyperphagia)
  • agitation or retardation
  • guilt
  • sense of worthlessness
  • hopelessness
  • helplessness
  • poor motivation
  • poor concentration
  • indecision
  • loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
  • low libido
  • recurrent thoughts of death
Far too many people ( and Organizations!) are expressing far too many of these traits...

What's the Spiritual Commentary on this "Current Event"?

We're very far from God . . .


Puzzled Woeman said...

I think that it may seem that we are currently very far from God, but I think we are getting closer.

I bought and read most of Darkness Visible a couple years ago. Sadly, at the time, I was too depressed to even finish it, as I had neither the will, nor concentration, nor motivation to complete any project that I had begun.

I wish I could say something that would cheer you up, but since I've been down in the dumps before, I know how hopeless it seems, and that sometimes no matter what anyone says or does, it feels like things will go on being hopeless. But, I have proof that there is light at the end of the tunnel, because my dark cloud has lifted some months ago. There is hope!

Consider me a friend!

Alexander M said...

"Consider me a friend!"

You got it!

I'm doing pretty well, considering...

Total MeltDown last July but here I am doing this blog plus other "real-time" public service.

The road is still Steep, but God is right There, pulling me Up!!

~ Alex

Puzzled Woeman said...

There is some blockage, though. Even after losing the depression, I have the ongoing fear that it will return. Days like today, for instance, where it's morning and I'm at work and I feel very sleepy. I think to myself, "Am I sleepy because I'm just fatigued? Or am I sleepy because I'm getting depressed again?"

I have found that spirituality helps the depression. It gives me something greater to focus on. And, it's not likely I'll ever find the answers, so that means I'll always have something to look for. :)

My last meltdown was in October of 2006, and the other major one was in December of 2004. Let's hope we don't have any more!

Oh, and thank goodness for blogs. They help, too!

Alexander M said...

"...thank goodness for blogs. They help, too!"

Oh, yes!!!

This blog is a MAJOR part of my therapy...

Dar said...

'Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart,'until ... in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.'

Dar said...

Below is an e-mail that I wrote to my family and friends back in November.

My story is basically an attempt to relate to you the "awakening" that has happened to me very recently. It's my way, I guess, of trying to share the incredible journey that I have just taken, and continue to take.
I have always considered myself to be a self-confident, competent woman. But for as long as I can remember I have harbored a feeling of emptiness, like something was missing somehow...I assumed that something was the "right" relationship, more money etc...I have come to believe that this is the predominant human condition. Time went on, I set various goals and excelled at things that I set my sights on. I was constantly being told that I would make an excellent nurse. I even enrolled in school in Denver, but didn't see it through. I was dragging my feet because, I thought, that I wasn't supposed to be a nurse and if not that, then what?? I knew I had other passions but my whole work experience was nursing-my technical skills were top notch, so what was my problem???
In 2003 I began to feel a pull to Maine. No idea why-never been to Maine, actually never been east of Ohio, but there has always been a "fondness" for New seemed like "home" to me somehow....So after a 10 day vacation to Maine in the summer of 2003, I started planing. June of 2004 found me on a plane with my cat, headed for a new life.
After arriving here my fall was immediate and complete. Everything that I had defined myself by was gone. I couldn't start IV's, drop NG tubes,hell I couldn't even put on oxygen here, people actually doubted I had the skills! All the nursing skills that I was so highly valued for in Denver meant nothing out here. Somehow that translated to "I am nothing". I sank into a dark , deep pit of depression, mentally flogging myself for every past error, every misstep in judgement, my intellect "knew" things, but my soul was a void. I don't believe in taking meds for depression. It took me almost 2 years to pull myself out of that pit, but what I learned about myself were lessons that made it worthwhile.
Finally I was able to let go-to forgive myself completely for every thing that I had spent so much energy beating myself up for. I learned the power of self-love and I realized that I never actually thought I COULD be a nurse. It was always some far-off dream...I carried with me, every day of my life, crippling self-doubt and damaging internal dialogue that I was never even aware of. All my life, I realized, I searched for something, some place or someone to fill that emptiness in myself. And I always thought that I was honest with myself, and I was, to the best of my knowlege at that time. But our minds are clever jailers, and keep us in self-imposed bondage until we are finally able to rise above it.
Winston Churchill said "If you are going through hell, keep going." As I look back on my fomer self, I am surprised in a way. My old self would ridicule the waste of so many years being always afraid. Now I am so grateful that I have so much time left! The timing was perfect, it happened when I was ready for it. There are many examples of miraculous things happening as a result of emotional trauma. I would say this has been my miracle.
I am no longer plagued with self-doubt! The power of that is unbelieveable! I don't bemoan the past or live only for some future.."Ill be happy when......"
I've known these truths always...intellectually. It took this experience for these things to blossom fully and for me to truly see clearly-finally and once and for all. This is not an "attitude"'s a absolute clarity of what is...and who I am!!
What I have learned through this experience is simple, yet it isn't something that can be realized intellectually. I identified my self with what I did-all external things. When those external things were gone, so was "I" if I were asked to "define" myself, I would speak of internal things, things that are the essence of who I am.
I no longer dwell in the past or worry about the future. I enjoy each step that I take today, and as a result I see things and appreciate things on a much deeper level.

Our minds are so active, running our lives that we have little room for our spirits to do the guiding. "Meditation" is one path to that, but those voices are so hard to silence. A simple exercise-Close your eyes and think to yourself "I wonder what my next thought will be" While you are waiting for that next thought, it's the absence of thought that is the peace-the quiet that we seek!! Pretty damn cool!!! And practice makes those silences ever longer.

There have been many spiritual teachers, Budda, Jesus, various Zen masters who have tried to convey basic truths about conscientiousness. But we "think" and "reason" the lessons away, instead of developing our spirits to know what is already inside us.
Wow, well I'm sure this sounds very "new age-y", but it is what it is, whatever label is applied. As I have said, these things are not new-none of this is new information. I was just never able to "depose the dictator" that was my egoic mind.

Anyway, I also wanted to tell those of you who wrote me letters of recommendation that during my darkest days, those letters were my lifeline to any feelings of self worth, and I am ever grateful. I still cherish them, but for entirely different reasons.

I hope this isn't too vague, as I read this over I realize that I fall very short of what I wish to express, like a painter who is so moved by the sunset but the final painting does not convey the emotion that he felt while viewing it. But I hope this is adequate, just the same!

Alexander M said...

You reminded me of a poem I wrote:


Pebbles of sadness
Play in the streets;
Rocks of grim circumstance
Bred them in grief.
Fire and
Pressure of God's sweet
Decree is the
Crucible making them

Small, perfect
Diamonds are born through
Pearls rise from crushing-dark
Rubies remember calamity's

Jewels all prove
Spirit's dread